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Mìosachan nan Gàidheal: Geamhradh (Pàirt 1)

Mìosachan nan Gàidheal: Geamhradh (Pàirt 1)

Posted by Calum on 14th January, 2021
If you have been reading any of blogs recently I have been looking at holy days and festivals of the Gaels (Scottish and other) throughout the year; I wondered if it would be interesting to note for the year to come. As the Gaelic year goes and begins at the start of Winter I decided to start with Winter. We have many of them from Scotland, found from the book “The Gaelic Otherworld” by John Gregorson Campbell, and from Man, from the book “The Folklore of the Isle of Man” by A.W. Moore.
 
31/10 – Oidhche Shamhna/Oie Houiney/Hop tu naa [Halloween] – This is the last day of Autumn and the first day of Winter. It is believed that buidsichean, doideag and bad spirits from the from the otherworld. The “Na Daoine Beaga” [“The Fairies” if you’re brave] as well on this night, where un-eaten food is left through the night, with news drinks of water, left for them. Samhnagan are built and lit on this night as they’re built on Bealltainn night.
 
An t-Sàmhain/Ciad mhìos a’ Gheamhraidh/Yn-chied vee jeh’n gheurey/Yn Tauin/Sauin/Hollandtide/Halloween [November]
01/11 – Là nan Naomh Uile/Samhain/Laa Souney/Hollandtide Day/Laa’l Mooar ny Saintsh [All Saint’s Day] – The Gaelic year would start on this day in the olden days. This day would be held in St. John’s Church, Isle of Man.

02/11 – Là nam Marbh/Laa’l Feoill ny Marroo [All Soul’s Day].

11/11 – Oie Houiney (Seann là Shamhna)/Laa’l Noo Martin [St Martin’s Day].
 
12/11 – Shenn laa Houney [Old Halloween] – This was the old Halloween day in Man of old.
Cèitean-Samhna – This was the fortnight of good weather that we have in November. This must be connected to “Seacanaich na Samhna” where one would thatch their houses in this time. There is another feature of this kind with the name “Foghar Clann a’ Ghobhainn” where a local family the duration of this good weather for fulfilling their harvest. In the time of good weather “Coileachadh” of trout would happen and “bàrr-dearg” would be harvested that would be great for manure.
 
Là Taingealachd an Fhoghair – This day would be on the second Wednesday of November.
 
18/11 – Laa’l Spitlin Geurey – This is “The Winter Feast day of the Hospitals” in English. This day is celebrated on behalf of those of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of old. The same day is celebrated in summer with the name “Laa’l Spitlan Sourey.” These two days are celebrated in Saint John the Baptist’s Church.
 
22/11 – Laa’l Kickle/Kial [St. Cecilia’s Day].

25/11 – Shenn Laa’l Catreeney [Saint Catherine’s Day]. – This day would be celebrated on this day before it changed to the sixth of December.
 
26/11 – Laa’l Maghal Geuree [Saint Maughold’s feast day of winter] – There is a a summer equivalent of this day on the thirty-first of July.
 
30/11 – Là Fhèill Anndra/Shenn Laa’l Andreays [Saint Andrew’s Day] – This is the National Saint of Scotland and so it is celebrated on this day. Interestingly the day is celebrated on the eleventh day of December in Man instead of what we celebrate in Scotland.
 
An Dùbhlachd/Mee ny Nollick/Mee veanagh y gheuree (December)
06/12 –Laa’l Catreeney [Saint Catherine’s Day] – This day is celebrated in Arbory church, Colby, Man. A chapel used to be there, “Keeill Catreeney,” with a well close to it, “Chibbyr Catreeney,” where the Festival would be held on “Magher Catreeney” [“Catherine’s Field”]. There is a ditty connected to this day too:
“Kiark Catreeney maroo,
Gow’s y kione,
As goyms ny cassyn,
As ver mayd ee fo’n thalloo.”
[“Catherine’s Hen is dead,
Take thou the head,
And I will take the feet,
And we will put her under the ground.”]
If one was to be drunk at the festival one would say that they have “plucked a feather of the hen.”
 
08/12 – Là Fhèill Moire a ghineadh gun smàl [Feast of Immaculate Conception].
 
11/12 – Shenn Laa’l Andreays [Old Saint Andrew’s Day] – This was the old Saint Andrew’s day in Man before it was changed.

20/12 - Oie’l Fingan [Saint Fingan’s Eve] – In Man “Faaid mooar son Oiel Fingan” (“”) for the preparation of food (for feasts over the time of Christmas) on Saint Fingan’s Eve.
 
21/12 –Là Nan Trì Suipearan/Fèill Fionnain/Laa’l Thomase/Laa’l Fingan – The “Là nan Trì Suipearean” [“Day of the three suppers”] is the longest night we have in the year – “Grain-stad a’ gheamhraidh” [“Winter Solstice”] as it is said. The night is so long that one can have three suppers (if you wanted!) With the weather, and that the night shall be so long for three suppers, one says ““Tha ’n t-uisge na fhìon agus tha ’s na clachan ’nan càise” [“The water is wine and the stones are cheese”] for merriment!
In Man it was called “Laa’l Fingan” [“Saint Fingan’s Day”] before it was changed to “Laa’l Thomase” [“Saint Thomas’ Day”]. He was the Bishop of Clonard, in Ireland, in the sixth century. Some are of the opinion that this day will come of the sixteenth of December but it shall appear between the twelve days.
In terms of “Weather-Lore” about Saint Fingan’s Day “Ny nee yn rio gymmyrkey guiy roish yn Ollick cha nymmyrkey e thunnag lurg yn Ollick” (“If the frost will bear a goose before Christmas, it will not bear a duck after Christmas.”)” is said.
Latha Cois-cheum Coillich” – This is the added time we have after the Winter Solstice, on the day of the three suppers, with the days growing longer. With the little of added time, and with just how little the added time, it is long enough for the cockerel and the hens to take a further step to their food.
 
24/12 – Oidhche Nollaig/Oie’l Verrey/Myrrh/Fastyr Laa yn Ollick/Kegeesh Ommidjagh (Christmas Eve) – It is a custom in Man to start a “Mollag Bands” and to get involved in the fun about Christmas time. Christmas time is important for fun and social events as well. There is a similar custom in Ireland with the name “Hunt the Wren” where a Wren is hunted and a group will be created travelling the houses for raising money for his burial! There is a song in Ireland about it: “The Wren, The Wren.”
 
25/12 – Là na Nollaig/Oidhche Chainnle/Laa Nollick/Yn Ollick [Christmas Day] – Christmas day is full of folklore and customs. You can see more of them in the blog “Briathrachas Riatanach na Nollaige.” “Dà Latha Dheug na Nollaige” starts on this day, that runs until the sixth of January. For more information about these days have a look at the blog "Dà Latha Dheug na Nollaige."
Earrach Beag nam Faochag [Little Spring of the Whelks] – This is the time when shellfish are said to be at their best quality and ready to harvest. This time starts from Christmas time until Saint Bridget’s Day. With the shellfish to be had you can make a good broth with them with the name “Siabh” or “Brochan Fhaochaig” [“Whelk porridge”].
[Lots of lore can be found about this time in the blog “Duain na Nollaige.”]
 
26/12 – Là Naomh Steaphain/Laa’l Steaoin/Cammag [Saint Stephen’s Day] – This day is celebrated in Man and in Ireland especially. [See above the “Mollag Bands” about “Hunt the Wren” and the folklore connected to it.] A game of Cammag in Man as well, as one has a game of shinty on New Year’s Day.
 
27/12 – Laa’l Eoin Nollick/Laa’l Ean ’syn Ollick [Feast Day of Saint John the Evangelist].
 
28/12 – Laa’l Macan/Laa’l ny Macain [Feast of the of the Holy Innocents].
 
31/12 – A’ Challainn/Quaaltagh/Oie Nollick-Beg [Hogmanay]. [Lots of folklore about this time can be found in the blog “Duain na Callainne.”]
 
We shall carry on with part two next week with more with January and the end of Winter. There must be days and festivals that I haven’t mentioned but do you know of a holy day or festival that I haven’t mentioned? Let us know on facebooktwitter and our own website!
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